OK, you are in a shit hole. The last thing you wonder about is how to get your shit together.
The main thing you probably think about is this: why/how did I get here?
It might be out of feeling sorry for yourself.
That is jeopardizing and will get you deeper into that shit hole.
Or it might be a ‘smart’ attempt of you to figure your way out. Well, I am here to tell you that it is not the ‘smartest’ thing you should do to get your shit together. There are more overlooked smart things you should be doing.
And in fact, your evil inner critic can interfere with the process of answering that question. This will make you look down at yourself, which is not the best thing to do while already in a shit hole.
In this guide, we will talk about a step-by-step process that can help you climb the shitty walls of the dark hole.
Let’s dive in.
There is a lot to be said about the victim mentality.
But let’s sum that up by saying: you want someone/something to save you.
By doing that, you avoid accepting your own responsibility for your life.
It is always someone’s fault. There is always something/someone to blame.
You will feel crushed and like you have no control over your life.
That is not a good place to be in. It is a dangerous place that can make you weak over time.
And because you deny your responsibility, you will feel anger and resentment. You will resent those you hold accountable for your suffering. You will resent the successful people around you. You will resent the world. And you will probably, at some level, resent yourself. That will damage your self-worth and identity way more than any shit hole can.
But there is an upside! Yes, there is! The victim mentality has benefits, and that is one of the reasons you adopt it in the first place. It gives you subtle ways to be comfortable.
Ask yourself this: what do I gain by being a victim/by blaming others/by being in a shit hole/by avoiding to accept responsibility?
There are gains, believe me.
Maybe it is the relief that you can live your life knowing that no one expects anything from you. Or, it is having something to complain about. Maybe it is having an excuse for why you can’t do this or that. Or, it is the feelings of sympathy you get when you complain to people; you feel loved and cared for.
Think about it. Even if the answers were hurtful, stick to answering them. Try to see the benefits you get by avoiding to accept responsibility for your life and by playing the victim role.
This is the first step to accepting your responsibility.
And that is a noble thing to do, moral even. It makes you a strong, mature, and better person.
Who would you respect more: someone who blames everything and everyone for his/her suffering? Or someone who says he/she is to be held accountable for their life? Be careful. Your own mind will ask itself this question and answer it and then judge you based on the answer.
Get Over Your Shame
No improvement can be made if shame is present.
We simply cannot move when shame is all that we feel.
And it can be shameful to find yourself in a shit hole. You would think that something is wrong with you and that you deserve this. That is why I advised against asking the question of why you got there in the first place. Your shame can take over and answer you: because you suck. Because you are never enough.
The dangerous thing about shame is that it will destroy your ability to change anything. It will convince you that you are worthless and no one ever cares about you, which are two big lies.
How do you get over your shame?
Well, that is a big question. Books have been written to answer this question. And I have talked about this topic a lot. I will refer you to two articles and one book that will help you do that. In those articles, you will find practical tips and fresh insights. Start applying them.
- Everybody Has Struggles, So Don’t Stigmatize Yourself
- How To Get Yourself Back After A Shit Storm
- Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
Stick To One Course Of Action
You cannot get out of a hole without climbing.
As corny and cliche as it sounds, you need to take action.
But let’s put a ding on it.
You need to stick to one course of action and take it consistently. But what is that course of action?
Let me explain how it will be helpful.
You need to break down one big thing into many small things. And then you need to start learning about one small thing, start applying what you learn, and stay consistent until you master it.
For instance, health is one big thing. Breaking it down, we find that sleeping, eating healthy food, and working out are its smaller components. Let’s start with sleeping. For the next week, you will learn about sleeping, its benefits, and how to get more of it. If you already know a lot about it, assume you don’t and start learning again. Seriously, if you are in a shit hole, there is a great chance that you either don’t know something or you are not applying something that you know. Learn anyways.
Then you move to nutrition. You may also break it down, for it is a large topic. You start by having a healthy breakfast. You want to start learning about what makes breakfast healthy and what is good for you personally. You start having that healthy breakfast. Then you move to add more to your protein intake or to have more of a certain vitamin or to have less of something else. To figure out what, you need to learn. And then you need to learn how to achieve what you have figured out.
And so on. This is a snowball. Pretty soon, you will have momentum and you will be in a different place.
Self-compassion And Social Support
When you start taking action, you will make mistakes.
Mistakes can wake shame up. By now, and after reading the articles suggested above, I guess you have an idea about how to handle it.
But that might not be enough. So, we need to emphasize the importance of those two powerful concepts: to have compassion and empathy toward yourself, and to have some social support. Let’s start with the first one.
You need to be able to forgive yourself. Don’t be so harsh with yourself and beat it up. The world is already doing that and you are in a shit hole. And to survive, you need allies. The best ally is yourself; don’t lose it. Don’t become its enemy.
There is a difference between guilt and shame. Guilt is: I did something bad. Shame is I am bad. It is healthy to feel guilty after making a mistake. It is jeopardizing to feel shame. And grows when there is no compassion and empathy.
I have written an article about self-compassion that is worth the read:
Social support is important, too. It is therapeutic to be with people who are compassionate toward you and who show genuine empathy when they see you struggling. Work on developing your own compassion toward yourself and then find people who can treat you the same way, too.
Of course, developing a strong social support system is something that requires investing in your close relationships. And it is important because we fight better together. The lone-wolf mentality and the new overhyped independence are, in my opinion, coming from the fact that we are lonely, miserable, in shame, but are trying to cover that up as if we were not.
Stop that. Seek social support. Build social support. It will help, along with the self-compassion.
Note that support should not be confused by co-dependence. If you get the first idea about accepting responsibility right, you should not worry about being co-dependent because you know you will always hold yourself, and not the people you care about and who care about you, accountable for your suffering.
If, for any reason, you cannot find social support, stick to self-compassion. And in the future, start investing in your close relationships.
I am from a generation that doesn’t know how to be patient.
But still, I give this advice a lot. And I hear it a lot from the people who are close to me.
I admit that I suffer in this area. But I understand its importance. And the times during which I have been patient were the times I yield great results.
We are living in a time where you can have instant pleasure everywhere. The internet is a good example. You don’t wait anymore to get things. And to compound that, it is already a human-nature to be in a hurry and to desire the shortcuts. Technology is just making it worse.
You need to fight against that. You need to stick to the one course of action that we mentioned above and be fucking patient.
Looking back, all the great skills I learned, the great achievements I achieved, and the great relationships in my life were long processes and didn’t happen overnight. They took time. And effort. And pain. But they were worth it. Hell yeah!
So, be patient. Patience leads to greatness. Or, at least, out of shit holes.
It is common to lose your shit. It is common to be in shit holes. But it is not common to search and read and try to figure out how to get your shit together.
So, bat yourself on the back. You have just done the uncommon.
That said, you need some honest pieces of advice about how to do that. A process. And you don’t need to hear about grit and discipline and hard work. They are great, but they are the emotional knots we want to untie.
You need something different. Something that will help you get up and give you some momentum.
Those 5 pieces of advice do just that. Accepting responsibility, getting over shame, sticking to one course of action, self-compassion and social support, patience.
If you like to elaborate on the first point about responsibility, I recommend Jordan Peterson’s work. He has amazing work on that. He takes it one step further by taking about finding your own meaning, which is related to responsibility. I recommend his book Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief.
Happy shithole-free life!